Author: Ann Grandchamp, Mental Health Editor
We are very privileged to have Dr Phil Parker with us today to talk about Body Positivity. As an expert in the areas of Health and Happiness, he has a lot of practical and insightful tips to share with those of us who are struggling with body image. It’s thanks to him and his life work, the Lightning Process® training, that I am now living a life I love.
Get yourself a cuppa (you know me by now right?), get comfy and get ready to find some gold nuggets to help you on your path to self-love.
Hi Phil, first off I wanted to ask you what you are passionate about in life?
I’ve been on a mission for the last three decades to help people who feel there is no hope find solutions to the challenges affecting their health and happiness – there’s really nothing quite like seeing a moment of change when you know someone’s life is going to be different forever and to know that you’ve had a role to play in that process.
In my personal life it’s my family, and I’d include my faithful doggy friend Luna in that; listening to and making music, which has been my constant fascination since I was as young as I can remember and baking sourdough bread.
How would you describe the work you do?
I’m often described as the Health and Happiness Expert, as I work in such a wide range of arenas including helping Olympics athletes, Oscar and Grammy winners achieve peak performance, those with chronic health problems find solutions to their health issues and those struggling with addictions to drugs and living on the street attain recovery and restart their life in a new direction.
Wow. That’s fascinating! What are you most passionate about in your work?
My personal experiences of being told I would never recover from a serious injury, but finding a way to recover anyway, inspired me to find solutions for others struggling with apparently impossible problems. This eventually resulted in me creating the Lightning Process, a powerful self-transformation program that helps people to develop a new, compassionate relationship with themselves and to find ways to use the science of psycho-neuro-immunology to change their health and life.
I’ve written a range of books on the subject of empowering people with simple effective tools such as using language and words differently and using your brain to stimulate changes in your body’s physiology.
I fundamentally believe that everybody should have access to these extraordinary life changing tools and that it’s really important not only to get their message across but make it accessible, simple and easy to understand.– Dr Phil Parker
I’m sure you’ve worked with many people struggling with body image. Have you noticed any common themes or challenges that come up more than others?
One of the central themes that often shows up for people with body image issues is a lack of kindness towards themselves. There can be many reasons why people develop this, and I use the word develop on purpose, as when we are born we have a clear sense of our right to be taken care of, to get people’s attention and that we are worthy of people’s time. A three month old child that wakes in the night makes loud demanding noises until it gets what it wants – it doesn’t have conversations about how maybe its needs aren’t as important as anybody else’s or that it doesn’t deserve people’s kindness or that it is worthless. So these are all things that we learn later on in life. And the good news is that if we’ve learned them that it is possible, with support and appropriate tools, to unlearn them too.
Do you find that there are more women than men who struggle with body positivity? If so, why do you think that is?
There is growing evidence that an increasing number of men also experience issues around body image but still it appears to disproportionally affect women and particularly teenagers. Some suggest the reason for this imbalance is the historic focus on women as having a role of being pretty or beautiful first and anything else second. We don’t have to go too far back in time to find ‘developed’ countries where women did not have the vote, mainly because they were considered not to able to think carefully enough about complex issues and maybe for similar reasons were not allowed to own property or have their own money.
Even though those conversations have moved on in recent decades, print, TV and film media and particularly social media are still focused on the importance of image, where how you look, striving to create the ideal perfect airbrushed version of yourself is the currency of success and fame.
And these conversations about not being good enough, not looking your best, not looking perfect start to become internalized and as our brain is an amazing machine for convincing us that what we think is true, it can be easy to start to buy into this destructive propaganda. This toxic cycle really needs to stop.– Dr Phil Parker
What would be your top 5 tips for someone struggling with body positivity?
1 – Become kind to yourself. This is a very simple sentence but for many people seems a difficult and long journey – luckily it does not have to be with appropriate tools such as the Lightning Process.
2 – Linked to this, start asking important questions such as:
- If I treated my friends like I treat myself would I have any?
- Would I say the kind of things I say to myself to my friends?
- Maybe I should listen more to what my good friends say about me, and repeat those things more than negative statements
3 – Learn about Neuroplasticity. This is the process that occurs within everybody’s brain. It’s central to how we learn things. Basically, each time you use a particular set of brain pathways or thoughts it strengthens that pathway and makes it easier to do it again. So if you practice using pathways linked to body positivity, kindness and empowering internal conversations, these will become your new normal it’s just a question of practice.
4 – Do some mirror work– this may sound a bid odd, but it’s surprisingly helpful. Practice looking into a mirror and saying nice things to yourself. The research says that if you use statements that begin with ‘You’ it has an even greater effect than ones beginning with ‘I’ (“you are great/amazing/lovely” is more powerful than ‘I am great/amazing/lovely’)
5 – Check how much you are surrounding yourself with people and social media feeds that boost your sense of self-worth or undermine it. If you are swimming in toxic conversations change the conversations and sometimes you might need to change that friendship group or delete that social media account as it’s so important to take care of yourself and drip feed positivity into your body, brain and mind.
And on a more personal note, is body image something you’ve ever had to work on? If so, what was the key to resolving the issue for you?
As a teenager I was always the tallest, skinniest kid around- and looked and moved a bit like a confused ill fed heron.
You might think that being tall and thin would be an asset but it makes it very difficult to hide and you become the focus of attention very quickly. I was bullied quite a lot as a result when I was a teenager, but I got to a point when I realized other people’s opinions really weren’t that important and they weren’t something I could really change anyway.
Instead I realized I needed to appreciate what was great about me, focus on that and that other people’s opinions were more likely to be influenced by what my opinion were of myself and also not everybody was going to like me and that was okay.– Dr Phil Parker
Dr Phil Parker, the Health and Happiness Expert
Dr. Phil Parker is a lecturer, therapist and innovator in the field of personal development. He has been lecturing on neuro-physiological training, how the brain can be used to affect physiology, since the late 1980s. He designed the Lightning Process® seminars, which are now available in 22 different countries.
Phil has coached performers at the highest level, including Premiership footballers, European Tour golfers, Oscar, Grammy and Olympic winners, the British Olympic medical team and was the performance psychologist for Ed Stafford’s successful Guinness World Record attempt to walk the Amazon.
He was awarded a PhD in the Psychology of Health for his research into a new approach for addictions and substance use. He is principal of the Phil Parker Training Institute and is a researcher and lecturer in Coaching and in Drugs Counselling at London Metropolitan University. His has authored a number of papers and four books on coaching and health, which have been translated into a range of languages.
To learn more, please click on the link below.
Are you enjoying our content? We would love to hear your opinions in the comments sections. Stay tuned for our April posts, cuz spring is finally here. We will continue to talk about body positivity, health, happiness, ex-pat, and travel tips.
To read posts from March, click here